Anna Carnochan ./Retna Ltd./Corbis
Jose Garces is a multifaceted chef born from Ecuadorian parents and raised in Chicago. He has won a James Beard Award, appeared on Iron Chef, and owns five restaurants in Philadelphia. In high school he played football and wrestled, and only attended Kendall College's culinary program after two separate stints at local junior colleges.
Garces worked at Star Canyon (now closed) in Dallas, executed several stages in Spain, and took the reigns of Bolivar in NYC in 1999, which turned out to be a disaster. After leaving his executive chef post, Garces rejoined the line, working for Douglas Rodriguez, known as the "godfather of Nuevo Latino cuisine." Soon afterward, Stephen Starr (of Starr Restaurant Group that manages five restaurants including the famously chic Buddakan) hired him, and from him Garces learned what it was to build an empire.
Garces went on to create his own Garces Restaurant Group, which includes Amada, Chifa, Village Whiskey, Garces Trading Co., JG Domestic, Mercat, Distrito, and Tinto. Amada, the first of the bunch, has garnered the most praise and has been featured in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, New York Times, Gourmet, and Philadelphia Magazine.
Garces has a cookbook out called Latin Evolution, and won the Food Network's The Next Iron Chef in 2009. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and young children.
Culinary Style: Latin
Restaurants: Amada, Chifa, Village Whiskey, Garces Trading Company, JG Domestic, Mercat, Distrito, Tinto
DID YOU KNOW?
Since Amada, Garces has, as he says, "basically opened one restaurant a year. Each one of those openings, I work 20, 25, 30 days straight." This is not one who'll sit on his laurels.